Siblings ask Can We Change with Rosies – Friends on the Street

Fletcher, just seven years old, and his sister Summer, then 8, were struck by the stark reality of homelessness and hardship as they sat by the tranquil Gold Coast Broadwater. Amidst the serene surroundings, they observed a poignant contrast – families enjoying leisurely outings while others struggled to find shelter and support.

They both shared an all too familiar concern, when noticing the wastage from family BBQs strewed amongst the backdrop of their beautiful environment. Together, they vowed to make a difference someday.

Their journey towards change began when Rosies Gold Coast North Branch Coordinator Teresa Bettles and fellow volunteer Damian Costello visited their school. Inspired by the stories the two shared and the selfless dedication of volunteers aiding the homeless community, Fletcher and Summer felt a profound connection to Rosies mission.

“I ran out of school the day Teresa from Rosies came in. I knew we had found our partners for life. I think I talked for ages that night about ways we could make things better for people,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher, Damian, Teresa & Summer at the Rosies Gold Coast hub.

Fletcher and Summer’s stepfather, Tony, said after school that day, both children spoke with enthusiasm about how this “wonderful lady” was helping the homeless on the Gold Coast.

“In their words, for free! And that she needed to be recognised. Moved by the passion and care in both children, we just knew we had to support them,” he said.

Their mum, Marie, said although they were young, her two children spoke passionately about their business.

“They are invested and the desire to give back is commendable in such small human beings. They are compassionate and empathetic – it’s so inspiring to see,” she said.

Tony and Marie did some research into the background of Rosies, and Tony even attended outreach on the Gold Coast to experience what it was like and how the organisation helped people.

“When I went out on outreach for Rosies Friends on the Street, on the Gold Coast, I was truly touched to see firsthand the dedication, support and friendship I witnessed from Rosies volunteers.  To experience the unconditional willingness to help was truly remarkable.  I felt what the children had felt when Teresa first visited the school, and I knew they had chosen an amazing partner…. we were on the right path for the Can We Change initiative.”

So, the family approached Rosies with their idea. Can We Change utilises the Container Exchange Scheme ID to help raise funds for Rosies but with a twist – these funds can only be used to help reward and recognise the work of the volunteers. They approached local businesses, sporting centres and construction sites to turn cans and bottles into Years of Service recognition pins and thank you celebrations for Rosies more than 1600 volunteers.

Rosies – Friends on the Street Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Shallcross, said “Rosies volunteers positively impact the lives of others every day, offering care, compassion and support and asking for nothing in return. Without the countless hours volunteers dedicate to people in need, the charity couldn’t support the more than 84,000 patron interactions it facilitates each year.

“Homelessness on the Gold Coast and across Queensland is increasing at an alarming rate. The rising cost of living coupled with the continued housing and rental crisis is pushing more and more people to the edge and unfortunately projections show that it is going to get worse before it gets better,” she said.

“Not only is this exceptionally difficult for those experiencing homelessness and hardship, but also for our volunteers who are out on the street every night of the year offering comfort and connection to people at their most vulnerable.

“When the community or individuals donate to Rosies they trust that their funds will be used to directly impact the lives of those experiencing homelessness, hardship and disadvantage – unfortunately, this means that recognising the dedication and kindness of volunteers does not receive the attention that it truly deserves.

“Our volunteers are exceptional in every way, and it is wonderful to have Summer, Fletcher, their family, and now others see the impact that our volunteers make in the community and want to shout it from the rooftops – Can We Change will help us do just that.”

Through their initiative, Can We Change hopes to inspire others to create lasting positive change in their community.

“I love caring for people. At first homelessness made me very sad, but now I love learning new ways to take Can We Change to people who can help us. I can be shy to speak to people about our project, but I love what we are doing,” Summer said.

If you would like to receive a Can We Change recycling bin for your business, please contact Tony Carrick on [email protected]